Sonic Drive-In Company History Timeline

1953
His attempts to expand into multiple locations were not successful, and by 1953 Smith's chicken restaurants had failed.
In 1953, Smith went in with a business partner to purchase a five-acre parcel of land that had a log house and a walk-up root beer stand, already named the Top Hat.
1954
While traveling in Louisiana in 1954, he saw a food stall with homemade intercom speakers that allowed customers to order from their cars.
1956
1956 Charles Pappe starts his own Top Hat restaurant in cooperation with Smith.
In 1956 the first franchise opened in Woodward, Oklahoma.
1958
The Stillwater franchise drive-in was constructed and opened in 1958, along with another in Enid.
1959
1959 The 'Sonic' name is introduced.
In 1959 the Stillwater Top Hat became the first Sonic Drive-In.
Upon learning that the Top Hat name was already trademarked, Smith and Pappe changed the name to Sonic in 1959.
1968
In 1968, Sonic introduced the Pickle-O's, fried pickle slices.
1973
1973 Sonic becomes Sonic Systems of America and begins trading OTC.
By 1973 the trio built an additional 124 Sonics in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Kansas.
1977
When the first Sonic television advertisement aired in 1977, more than eight hundred drive-ins operated in thirteen southern and southwestern states.
In 1977, the company established the Sonic School for manager training.
1979
By 1979 profits began to fall nonetheless.
1980
A new advertising campaign, budgeted at only 5 million, could not reverse the decline, and by 1980 the company posted a net loss of almost 300,000.
1983
Jack Hartnett, president since 1983, led the Rogers Group to more than a dozen years of record profits and the highest unit volumes of any Sonic franchise.
1983 New CEO Stephen Lynn sets out to unify the franchises.
1984
A new franchise agreement in 1984, adopted by nearly 90 percent of the franchisees, provided the company with ascending royalties, beginning at one percent of gross sales and rising to three percent, depending on store volume.
1986
In 1986, Lynn, with a group of investors, completed a 10-million leveraged buyout and took the company private.
1991
1991 Sonic begins trading publicly again.
1992
Sonic's growth remained relatively flat after 1992.
1993
In 1993, Sonic's market value was estimated at 200 million.
1995
With the discontinuation of its Florida operations, Sonic saw its total revenues rise by 24 percent, to 123.75 million in 1995.
Average per-store sales were around 585,000 per year in 1995.
The company owned and operated, often through various franchise and partner agreements, 178 restaurants going into 1995.
In 1995, Hudson became president and chief executive officer, and Sonic Industries became Sonic Corp.
1996
Sonic's equipment sales unit was sold off to Columbus, Ohio-based N. Wasserstrom Sons, Inc. in February 1996.
1998
Feeling its stock undervalued, Sonic Corp. began to buy back shares in March 1998.
In 1998, Nation's Restaurant News and Inc. magazine each profiled the D.L. Rogers Group, a Bedford, Texas-based Sonic franchisee that operated 54 drive-ins generating 42 million in annual sales.
1998 A new 'retro-future' look is introduced for the drive-ins.
1999
In April 1999, Investor's Business Daily included Sonic in its list of the country's 200 best stocks.
Sonic Corp.'s revenues rose 18 percent in 1999 to 257.6 million.
2000
2000s edit Hudson was named chairman of Sonic Corp. in January 2000.
By August 2000, the company had bought back 53 million of its stock and had authorized another 20 million for that purpose.
2001
Sonic planned to open 200 restaurants in 2001.
As the company employed sixty thousand teenagers, the Sonic carhop was named one of Teen People magazine's Top 10 Jobs That Rock in 2001.
2003
In October 2003 Forbes named Sonic one of the 200 Best Small Companies in America for the tenth consecutive year, and Entrepreneur ranked Sonic as a top franchise opportunity in the United States.
SONIC s Two Guys campaign launched in 2003 and has become one of the most popular QSR advertising campaigns in history.
In 2003 Sonic celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, and every Oklahoma town with a population of more than four thousand had America's Drive-In.
2005
On June 28, 2005, helped by new menu items and increased advertising exposure, Sonic Corp. reported double-digit increases in net income and revenue in the third quarter that year.
2006
San Pedro joined the company in 2006, quickly rising through the ranks.
2007
In 2007, the company opened its first restaurants in the Northeastern United States, in Waretown, New Jersey, near the Jersey Shore.
2009
Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society and the author of Sonic The History of America s Drive-in Cottonwood Publications, 2009 , said Mr.
In 2009, Sonic partnered with DonorsChoose.org on a collaborative effort, Limeades for Learning, the chain's first systemwide cause marketing initiative.
In 2009, the brand had multiple quarters of declines in same-store sales.
2010
2010s edit In January 2010, Sonic announced that they would begin switching to cage-free eggs, gestation crate-free pork, and chickens killed using controlled-atmosphere stunning methods instead of traditional shackling and water-stunning.
Sonic reformulated its popular soft-serve ice cream to meet the FDA guidelines that define what constitutes real ice cream and introduced Real Ice Cream on May 17, 2010.
In June 2010, Danielle Vona was hired as chief marketing officer.
In late 2010, Sonic announced it was ending its 17-year relationship with advertising agency Barkley.
2011
A group of specialized agencies was selected to represent the company, and in early 2011, the San Francisco-based Goodby Silverstein and Partners was named as the new creative agency for the company.
2012
Craig Miller was hired as chief information officer for Sonic in January 2012.
2014
In 2014, the company announced plans to add 1000 restaurants in the next 10 years, including an additional 300 in California alone.
2015
The original Sonic to carry the first sign was demolished and renovated in May 2015.
On October 26, 2015, Sonic opened its first Rhode Island location in Smithfield, reporting to have received 500 orders on its opening day.
A photo posted by Sonic Drive-In sonicdrivein on Aug 5, 2015 at 11 57am PDT.
2017
In 2017, Sonic announced it would be adding seven new stores in Hawaii in the near future.
2018
On September 25, 2018, Atlanta-based Inspire Brands, owner of Arby's and Buffalo Wild Wings, announced that it was buying Sonic Drive-In for 2.3 billion.
The acquisition was completed on December 7, 2018.
Prior to becoming President in early 2018, she helped guide the company in a variety of capacities, including serving as Vice President of Investor Relations and, most recently, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.
2020
With more than thirty-five hundred franchises located in forty-six states in 2020, Sonic is the nation's eleventh-largest chain of drive-in fast-food restaurants.
Founded
1953
Company Founded
Headquarters
Oklahoma City, OK
Company Headquarter
Founders
Troy Smith
Company Founders

Similar Companies

Company NameascdescFounded DateascdescRevenueascdescEmployee Sizeascdesc
Wendy's1969
Wendy's
1969
1969
$1.6B
$1.6B
12,500
12,500
Burger King1954
Burger King
1954
1954
$5.2B
$5.2B
34,248
34,248
Jack in the Box1951
Jack in the Box
1951
1951
$1.6B
$1.6B
22,000
22,000
McDonald's1955
McDonald's
1955
1955
$21.0B
$21.0B
210,000
210,000
Culver Franchising System1984
Culver Franchising System
1984
1984
$175.0M
$175.0M
930
930
Little Caesar Enterprises1959
Little Caesar Enterprises
1959
1959
$337.5M
$337.5M
6,000
6,000
Arby's1964
Arby's
1964
1964
$1.3B
$1.3B
74,000
74,000
Dairy Queen1940
Dairy Queen
1940
1940
$3.6B
$3.6B
643
643
Taco Bell1962
Taco Bell
1962
1962
$2.0B
$2.0B
175,000
175,000
Hardee's1960
Hardee's
1960
1960
$578.4M
$578.4M
16,680
16,680
Find Jobs from Similar Companies
Personalize your job search. Where would you like to work?
0 selections